I have a friend who contends there is no real management going on in business anymore. She argues people are just playing with numbers and not trying to manage their way to success. To illustrate, I have another friend who is a manager of a popular restaurant franchise. I asked him how he manages his people. Interestingly, it is based on such things as sales volume, tips, and satisfaction surveys, which play a major role. From this, a score is computed and the waiters and waitresses are ranked accordingly. These scores ultimately dictate who will be assigned the best serving rotations in the restaurant. Other than this, he does little else in terms of managing his people, and it appears that's how corporate likes it. Interestingly, he also commented to me there was a lack of team spirit by his people; "Nobody watches the back of another," he said with dismay.
"No small wonder," I thought to myself. True, the mechanics of waiting on tables has long been established, but there is a certain degree of finesse required to assure customer satisfaction, and that includes having people work together.
Numbers are useful, but management requires certain people skills in order to maximize work effort. We've always defined it as, "getting people to do what you want, when you want it, and how you want it."
The three tenets of management have historically been: discipline, organization, and accountability. Let's examine each individually:
* Discipline in itself implies standardization, building things or performing services in a uniform manner, hopefully to a high degree of craftsmanship. Communication and leadership skills are thereby required.
* Organization implies structure and the definition of Who, is going to do What, When, Where, Why, and How. In other words, a definition of the methodologies, techniques and tools to be used in the work effort.
* Accountability refers to assuming personal responsibility for the execution of a given assignment.
All three tenets require a certain level of standardization and enforcement. In fact, you cannot effectively implement any of these without some form of uniformity and coercion. How a manager elects to implement the three tenets ultimately defines the corporate culture and the quality of products produced or services rendered.
The reality though is that the three tenets are considered "not cool" by the freewheeling X-Y-Z Generations who adamantly resist structure, control, and responsibility. To them, Discipline, Accountability, and Organization is just that, DOA - Dead On Arrival. I recently read an article by a management consultant who openly opposes the three tenets. He fundamentally argues it is old and tired and should give way to new techniques. Frankly, I see this as a reckless form of behavior. I would agree that classic bureaucracies impede progress and should be flattened, but we still need the three tenets if we want to produce quality products in a uniform manner. In other words, his contention of throwing the baby out with the bath water doesn't hold up with me. Instead, management needs to reexamine the three tenets and the levels they want to conform to.
Instead of trying to take control of the work environment and working with people, management seems more inclined to play with numbers and just hire and fire people (or outsource them). It's no small wonder workers feel blind sided when they get booted from their job.
Maybe my friend is right. Maybe there isn't any management going on anymore; that managers are doing nothing more than just playing with numbers. If she is correct, I'm reminded of the old expression, "Nobody's driving officer, we're all in the back seat." Reckless, very reckless. Let's hope my friend is wrong.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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